What kind of things should Christians pray for? World peace? An end to poverty? For the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend to come into our lives? For help losing weight? I’m sure those are all fine things to pray about. But this week I’ve been thinking about one particular (and perhaps surprising) answer to that question: Christians should pray for the things God has already promised to give us.
My friend Dave reminded me of this the other day after studying 2 Samuel 7. His namesake, King David, decides that it’s quite inappropriate for God not to have a permanent home for himself whilst David lives in comfort in a house of cedar – this is in a time when the ark of the covenant, symbolic of the presence of God, still took residence in a tent. But instead of allowing David to build Him a house, God turns around and says to David, “No, instead I’m going to build you a house”. And then he makes a whole bunch of amazing promises to David, in what has come to be known as the Davidic Covenant:
“I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more… Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom… I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son… Your throne shall be established for ever.” (2 Samuel 7:9-16)
They’re amazing promises to David, to establish his dynasty forever – promises ultimately fulfilled in the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David. What’s surprising about this passage is how David responds: he proceeds to ask God to do the things God has just told him he’s going to do.
“You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you… Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue for ever before you.” (2 Samuel 7:27-29)
It’s a tremendous model for us, because it reminds us of the extraordinary privilege of prayer. David would never have dared to ask God to establish his dynasty for all eternity – until the moment where God promised to do exactly that. How lightly we treat it when we think we can just waltz into God’s presence and start asking for things! And yet asking for things is exactly what God encourages us to do: the gospel promises give us courage to pray, but specifically they should give us courage to ask for the things promised.
I don’t know what your favourite promise in the Bible is – but have you ever thought to ask God to fulfill it in your life? Here are just a few I’ve thought of whilst mulling this over this week – why don’t you post a few of your own in the Facebook comments thing at the bottom:
- Romans 8:28: “All things work together for the good of those who love God” – when hard stuff is happening in our lives, rather than just assuming God will do it, we should probably try asking God to use it for our good.
- Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” – I find myself constantly exasperated at how little I seem to care about my sin. I’ve been really encouraged this week to ask God to make me careful to obey him.
- John 4:14: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – when we so desperately seek satisfaction in all the wrong places, how much refreshment do we miss out on by failing to ask Jesus for the water he offers?
I’m sure that these aren’t the only things we should be praying about. But we should definitely recognise how huge it is to be asking for anything at all from the God of the universe, and at the same time not take his promises for granted.